“When my child whines and cries it drives me nuts and I want to either shut them down or avoid them. Help!”
It looks like the child’s distress leads to your distress. If we parents never learned to fully SELF regulate, to identify and balance our own emotions, then we as adults will take on the emotions of others around us, especially partners and kids.
The child’s distress triggers the parent’s body into a stress response. This doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel safe in the parent’s body. Understandably the parent wants to stop the stress response in their own body.
Unfortunately, parents can label the child’s behavior as bad and use old strategies that involve some kind of power over to get the children to stop the behavior… so that that the parent can stop feeling uncomfortable.
Another option is this: Understand what is happening. You are feeling uncomfortable and having a stress response to the child’s distress. You don’t actually need the child to stop in order for you to be okay. You can handle it. You can learn to separate yourself from your child’s emotions and regulate your own internal environment.
I am not my child and my child is not me.
Once you yourself feel safe, you can skillfully and lovingly deal with an upset child. You can employ leadership skills to help the child solve problems and you can also teach skill of self regulation to your child.
There is an old paradigm and new paradigm at play here. The old paradigm holds the child responsible for the parents feelings. There is often punishment and blame. The new paradigm has the parent taking responsibility for him/herself and leading the family through challenging situations with skill and love. Here the is safety and connection.